Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Jesus came to bring about changed humanity

Ephesians 4:21-24 "if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth."

In yesterday's post we considered why no one can properly define "what man is" apart from Jesus Christ. In today's post I thought we would flesh this out further by considering one of the reason why Jesus came to this world in His first Advent. 

All other attempts to understand "what is man" fail apart from God's revelation in Jesus Christ
When attempting to map out the make-up of human beings, the Christian must necessarily begin with Jesus Christ. Why? In the Person of Jesus Christ the fully-Divine and fully-human natures meet. The Old Testament's answer to the question: "what is man?" could only be answered in light of whether or one was rightly related to God. When we arrive at the New Testament, the answer of the Old Testament is affirmed and taken further, that is to say, a man perfectly related to God would need to be the Savior who is at the same time God if true humanity ever had a chance of being recovered and understood. 

When Adam sinned, he died spiritually (in his human spirit) and thus lost all personal and moral ability to personally relate to and desire to know God. As a living soul, mankind would be born with a dead-inability to know God in his human spirit. As a living soul, man-kind would still bear the imprint or image of being made and design by God with a sense of God being revealed in a general way in creation (Psalm 19:1-6) and the conscience (Romans 2:15). The soul of the man is the "real you" so-to-speak, containing the mind, emotions, will and conscience. Thus the Bible reveals man as a soul, containing a human spirit, living in a physical body. 

When Jesus came and assumed upon himself a human nature, he did not inherit the fallen nature of Old Adam. As the Son ever remained God, He chose to enter into time by the virgin birth. (Matthew 1:21-23; Luke 1:35). Jesus' humanity was untouched by sin as a result of this miracle and thus in his humanity, Jesus' human spirit was filled with the fullness and glory of God's very presence by the Person of the Spirit. 

We know Jesus had a spirit in how he was able to perceive certain things at the deepest level by his inner communion with the Holy Spirit empowering and indwelling His humanity. (Mark 2:8; 8:12; John 11:33) Furthermore, the Gospels reveal Jesus' humanity as being a true living soul, as recorded in passages such as Matthew 26:38. In the Garden of Gethsemane we see Jesus expressing His mind, emotions, will and conscience as a man. Moreover, the scriptures repeatedly affirm that Jesus' humanity included a real, physical body, both in His pre-resurrection (Mk 15:43,45) and post-resurrection (Luke 24:39). 

Hence Jesus Christ in regards to His humanity, is a soul, containing a spirit, residing now in a glorified, resurrected physical body. (compare above scriptures to 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; Hebrews 4:12) Such a humanity describes Jesus Christ as "The New Adam" and the "Second Adam". (Romans 5:14ff; 1 Corinthians 15:22,44-45)  

When a man, woman or child is by grace united to Jesus Christ in saving faith, the transformational miracle that occurs in bringing about such union describes what takes place instantaneously in the human spirit through what the scriptures call the "new birth" or regeneration. (John 3:3; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3-5, 23) The Holy Spirit of God takes the sinner "out of Adam" and place them "in Christ" or "the New Adam". (2 Corinthians 5:17) This instant change of the human spirit from death/darkness to life/light is where salvation begins. However the human soul (mind, emotions, will, conscience, i.e the "real you") is being progressively changed in a process called "sanctification". (Romans 6:7-19; 8:1-10; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) The physical body of the Christian awaits redemption and will be redeemed and transformed or "raised" from this corruptible to incorruptible form. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-16; 1 Corinthians 15:35-58)

As preachers of old have said for years: "the penalty of sin is removed in regeneration/justification; the power of sin is removed in sanctification and the presence of sin will be removed in glorification or when Christians are in the presence of God in Heaven". I would add to this wonderful summary one more important point: "the physical decay of the body, caused by the curse of sin, will be removed at resurrection".

Transformation is central to Christianity because of what Jesus achieved as both God and man
As we draw this post to a close, we must ever remember that Jesus Christ retained His full-Deity when He came the first time. Unless Jesus Christ has been God, there would had been no way He would have had the power to Divinely change people's lives. With that said, we must also equally assert that Jesus Christ came to this world to take upon himself a fully human nature and retained such following His resurrection and ascension. Remarkably, unless Jesus Christ retained His full-humanity, He would not be capable of directly transforming the human life with whom He came to redeem and whom are united to His humanity by the Holy Spirit at saving faith. (2 Corinthians 12:12-13) The changes that take place and that are available in Jesus Christ are many and would not be possible to list in today's post. However the ability to be changed in one's spirit by the new birth and to experience emotional, physical, relational and societal healing, just to name a few of the many changes, is all made possible by what Jesus achieved as both God and man on the believer's behalf. This is only the beginning when it comes to thinking about how Jesus came to bring about changed humanity.